The best compliment I probably will ever get came from my aunt LaDonna. She said she wished she had been more like me in her life and taken more chances. She said, “You really have some balls, girl.” Damn straight.

Derby is a natural magnet for women with a little venom in their blood. Women with something to prove, a deep need to be challenged and endure. Look around you at a practice, it’s full of scrappy survivors, ready to play. Take a look into the steel eyes of your comrades during battle and you find a glimpse of yourself too.

But since the age of zero we’ve been coddled and dressed in pink, told to be quiet and for christsake be nice. And here we are on the other side of womanhood trying desperately to awaken the five year-olds we once were, playing in the dirt, beating up boys, and acting a damn fool. We got tired of playing nice, so we started playing roller derby.

Now I say that to say this right herr: When you lace your skates and you roll across that floor you must become that warrior that sleeps inside you. You must shake off the decades of doubt and reach deep into the core of your spleen where you will find one giant pair of balls that say, “Oh fuck yeah I can.” I’m telling you, they actually say that. And the reason you truly truly must is this: There is no room for self doubt in derby. It is a mentally and physically exhausting battle and you MUST stay positive to be prepared for the challenge.

You did it. You already decided to play. There are twenty girls at home watching House for each and every one of us at practice. So take a second to pat yourself on the back and realize you are the fucking shit. You rock.

My advice today is this: ban any and all negative thoughts from your head. Saying, “I can’t” is blasphemy. Discouragement is viral so buck up!